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Meeting a man who’s lost faith in ‘the Ring forecasts’

Francis Farragher

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A far cry from the wet April predicted by Ken Ring as a parched Connemara earth burns at Clloosh Valley after the April drought. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Last week, while buying some provisions in the local store, I was confronted (well in a nice kind of way) by a fellow customer, who had taken my advice in early March, to monitor the forecast accuracy of our New Zealand friend, Ken Ring, probably the world’s most famous long term predictor of weather.

The New Zealander does have an avid fan club but if you take a trawl through social media, he has his critics too, many of whom also give the conventional media a bit of stick too, for not highlighting his failures as well as his successes.

We do all do tend to get sucked into a place where predictions into the future are made and each Autumn, Ken Ring produces his almanac predicting weather conditions for the year ahead, at its furthest point about 14 to 15 months in advance.

He does have his ‘jackpot strikes’ as was the case last year when he predicted that our best spell of summer weather would arrive around the end of May and early June. Lo and behold, it turned out to be our only really decent window of high pressure through the whole Summer . . . but alas the tale has been a different one this Spring.

My friend in the provisions’ store had obviously taken my advice last March to cut out my column on Ken Ring’s predictions for the rest of 2017 and observed that he was ‘a long way off the mark’ on his forecast for the Spring gone by and especially the month of April.

As has been well recorded, our April gone by tended to smash the record books in terms of low rainfall amounts. Abbeyknockmoy weather recorder, Brendan Geraghty, whose statistics date back to 1941, had no other April with such miserly rain figures as we had last month. His rainfall figure for April, 2017, of less than a third of one inch (just over 8mms), was mirrored in the official Met. Éireann figures from all over the country.

Ken Ring’s prediction for April, taken directly from his almanac, is as follows: “Wetter overall with an estimated 40% more rainfall than is typical for April. Ulster can expect around 45% more rainfall than the norm; Connacht will be around 20%/25% wetter; Leinster close to 10% wetter and Munster, 70%/75% wetter than normal . . .

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Country Living

Coming to terms with the new normal of our daily workplaces

Francis Farragher

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The pros and cons of working from home!

Country Living with Francis Farragher

ON the greater scale of problems that we all have to face, it should never be too high up on the list, but yet when one moves house or workplace, there does tend to be little tinges of sadness with the transition, regardless of how hard-hearted we can all pretend to be.

Putting the bits and pieces of mostly materially worthless trivia into boxes for the move to the next home can still evoke memories of times good and bad; happy and sad; serious and comic — but all of which do evoke some little tug of the heartstrings.

We all age so gradually that at times we think haven’t changed at all over the past 30 years but then as a picture is resurrected from an old drawer, the realisation dawns that the world of youth has long passed us by.

Of course, there is absolutely no point in getting melancholic about what is, after all, the natural way of the world, and the overarching philosophy has to be, to live one day at a time and give it our best shot.

Whatever about a workplace shift, there are countless surveys and psychological studies that puts moving house high up there in the stress graph of life.

Buying or selling a house is, by all accounts, an absolute cesspit of traumas and is rated by most psychologists as well up there in the top-10 of ‘times in your life’ when you really feel under pressure.

Last year, UK property website Real Homes cited a survey of 2,000 homeowners, 40% of whom voted moving house as the ‘most nerve-wracking’ life-changing assignment that they had ever experienced . . .  even ahead of divorce, having a baby, or starting a new job.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

A step back in time to a day of unmitigated joy on Jones’ Road

Francis Farragher

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HIGH STEPPERS: Grown men in suits . . . women in high-heels . . . young lads with maroon hats . . . all seemingly floating on air after Galway's famous All-Ireland hurling victory in September, 1980.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Like three people I spoke to last week – Cyril Farrell, Joe Connolly and Mike Conneely – I too was taken aback somewhat by the fact that it was 40 years ago last weekend, since Galway made their massive hurling breakthrough in the first Sunday of September, 1980.

There’s no point living in the past or fretting about how quickly the flywheel of time is passing but it’s only when you glance back, the realisation dawns that decades have passed by almost in the blink of an eye.

Those were very different times in Ireland and for someone just armed with a BA and the ‘H. Dip’ – eked out after four years of less than hard toil at the then UCG – there was another recession upon us and there was a lot scratching about to be done to get a bit of work.

The papal visit of John Paul II was still fresh in everyone’s memory, and in more superstitious minds, his trip to Galway Racecourse on September’s last day in 1979 was credited with eventually banishing the curse that had prevented the men in maroon from winning an All-Ireland title. (Folklore attributed the curse to a group of Galway players leaving Mass early many decades before that!).

For the previous eight years, Galway hurling had been knocking on the recovery door, winning All-Ireland under-21 titles in 1972 and 1978, before making an historic National League breakthrough in 1975 when defeating Tipperary in the final.

Everyone knew in Galway though that one final bridge had to be crossed before the county would be back as a hurling force – the winning of a second All-Ireland senior title, to eventually make that link between ‘the present’ and that year of 1923. 57 years was an awful long time to wait.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Country Living

Forlorn search for that first jogger wearing a big smile

Francis Farragher

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Country Matters with Francis Farragher

FOR starters, I have nothing against joggers, walkers, cyclists or swimmers, and I’m still managing to tick about three of those boxes myself, but I am a little perplexed, at never through the course of my lifetime, having witnessed a jogger ever wearing a smile on their faces.

Come to think of it, in a time when I used to take on the Saturday morning Park Runs at Rinville, there was never even the remotest inclination on my part to attempt a grin, as one grim effort after another was made to beat the 30 minute ‘Berlin Wall’ barrier for the five kilometre trek.

Joggers don’t really smile because during the course of their five, eight- or ten-kilometre circuits, they tend to be consumed with absorbing that rather harsh meeting of feet with a hard surface that seems to apply a rigorous test of endurance to ankle, knee and hip joints – and particularly so if the birthdays are beginning to mount up.

A number of years back, a very competent but quietly spoken surgeon at the Bons, who, to use to his own words, ‘cleaned out’ one of my knee cartilages, said that his general advice was for over-50s not to jog or run regularly on hard surfaces. “Walk, swim and cycle – at least one of them every day if you can,” was his advice, and I’m inclined to think that those were solid enough words.

Everywhere I go though, I can’t seem to escape those addicts of the road who boast about how fast they can complete a 10k or on how they plan to run in one of the national marathon events.

The last time, I had to walk the 2.5km from the local tavern, every step seemed pained and ponderously slow. By the time, I had reached home the warmth and mirth of the inn, had been completely obliterated by a cantankerous knee, little armpits of sweat, and the inevitable West of Ireland rain shower. And I didn’t feel even the remotest inclination to smile either.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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